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Jan Finster

Speaking more fluently

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There is nothing really remarkable ("memorable") about the tenth "fang" or "shi" (whatever tone they may have).


Interesting that there you are again separating the toneless syllable from the tone.


In my mind, I don't associate the "fang" in "fangbian" (convenient) and the "fang" in "fanguar" (restaurant).  (Oops, that is a "fan," not a "fang," but you get my point, I'm sure.) I would need to stop and think about whether or not they were similar.  Sounds like you learn them as the same and then have to stop and think about how to differentiate them.



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7 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

as there are thousands on homophones. 

Right, but that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm not talking about listening again and again for different meanings.


I'm talking about listening again and again to the sounds of Mandarin - mā má mǎ mà bā bá bǎ bà tā tá tǎ tà focusing purely on the sounds and their differences (and not the meaning at all). 


This is to solve the problem you have where your "brain remembers phonetics better than tones." because you want to be in a position where your brain remembers tones just as well as phonetics.


So there is no tenth fang or shi.  There are only 4 fangs fāng fáng fǎng fàng and 4 shis shī shí shǐ shì. and they are all different and you need to listen to them again and again paying mindful attention to their differences until you can recall them and hear the differences in your brain without needing any prompt.  You need to be in a position where ā á ǎ à are 4 completely different sounds and you wouldn't confuse them any more than you would confuse a e i o u.


If you would not misremember ma and mo you shouldn't misremember mā and má.  It seems you are not at that point at the moment, but it's the point you want to reach.


When you reach that point, then when you learn a new word, instead of trying to remember it as two items 'phonetic + tone', you remember it as a single sound where tone is indivisible from the sound.


7 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

listening is not my most natural way to learn.

It probably isn't (and wasn't for me either), and that is why you need to spend extra effort to train your brain to do this, and I guarantee you that you absolutely can train yourself to do this if you decide you want to.


If you do, it will greatly simplify learning Chinese, and if you don't it will greatly complicate learning Chinese.

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21 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

I agree and yet I believe remembering Chinese tones is much harder than "Happy Birthday" as there are thousands on homophones.  There is nothing really remarkable ("memorable") about the tenth "fang" or "shi" (whatever tone they may have).

Also, listening is not my most natural way to learn. I was never good at listening to teachers, but rather needed to read things myself. I also, do not really have the voice of my favourite actor "in my head". Rather, I recognise him, when I hear him.


This is precisely why we have to spend much more time listening. And it’s not going to happen in a class with a teacher unless you are spending a few hours daily with the teacher(s).


Once I realised this, I now spend more than 80% of my chinese time on repeated listening to sentences. It’s pretty mundane work and I am still not great at it. I listen first then match the sounds. Not read first, then try to work out the sounds. I do this precisely because I used to do what you are doing.

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Early on, one thing that helped me listen better was watching engaging movies with subtitles.  Very early on, I couldn't even tell the difference between different dialects - I just knew I didn't understand.  Watching movies changed this.  When I started watching movies, I might understand just 1 word in 40 or 50, but it slowly got better and it definitely trained my ears in an enjoyable way.  


Some will disagree with the use of subtitles, but without them I wouldn't have understood anything and wouldn't have wanted to spend the time watching.  When you like a movie, it's pleasure, not work, to listen.  

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